Celebrity News
Heading to China for his drama comeback
by | September 15, 2008 | 20 Comments

At the end of this month, Kim Jae-won (of the “killer smile”) begins work on his comeback effort headlining a Chinese drama, and offered up a bright Chuseok greeting to his fans before his departure: “Did you eat a lot of songpyun [rice cake]? I am taking on a new start in China. Please have a wonderful Chuseok holiday and remember the warm-hearted Kim Jae-won always.”

He’s leaving in the middle of this week for China, having the unique experience of starring as a Korean actor in a collaboration with a Chinese production company (a subsidiary of JS Pictures) with the Chinese trendy drama First Love (working title).

Before leaving the country, he explained in an interview with Asia Economy newspaper:

“A Korean writer is writing the script, and the PD of [SBS drama] I Love You, Lee Chang-han, is directing. In addition, from filming to lighting and art direction, the crew is Korean. … Because I will be speaking Chinese, I need a lot of preparation. I’ve heard a lot of talk about how a wind of dislike is turning toward us from the Chinese these days, which means I’ll have to work even harder. I’ll have to do my best to speak my words with sincerity, to let those who dislike us come to like us again. …Doing this drama means I won’t be able to go back to Korea for some time, but I’ll make sure to keep in touch regularly with the Korean media and not lose contact.”

(Note: I don’t know much about the popular sentiments of the Chinese toward Korea — or Korean perceptions of such — that Kim Jae-won refers to here. But let’s not let this degenerate into a Korea-China argument.)

This is Kim Jae-won’s return project after 2006’s drama Hwang Jini. He rose to popularity in 2001 in MBC’s Our House, then starred opposite Kim Haneul in Romance.

Via Asia Economy

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20 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. invisibelle

    Hah, wow, I always forget he was in Hwang Jini. I had to stop and think about it when I read that sentence. Was barely recognizeable in the facial hair.

  2. asianromance

    i also had no idea that there was a ‘a wind of dislike’ from some of the Chinese toward the Koreans. i wonder if the broadcast version will really have him speak in chinese. or will he just speak in chinese while acting and get dubbed over- which is what a lot of mainland productions do when the chinese isn’t the proscribed standard mandarin accent (those from Taiwan who speak mandarin get dubbed over too). But i guess this is a better effort than just saying the lines in korean and then having the chinese dubbed over. The mouth and the dubbed voice will match better. I think Kim Jae Won should have done a comeback in Korea- i don’t think his popularity is that high in Korea, especially with new actors coming up each year, and I’m waiting for him to regain the fame he had in the early 2000s. Or he should have done a Taiwan drama-which I think would be more popular and trendier.

  3. belleza

    “i also had no idea that there was a ‘a wind of dislike’ from some of the Chinese toward the Koreans.”

    Yeah, it’s pretty strong. Just overall backlash to Hallyu and netizen claims that Confucius was really Korean and that “name Chinese tradition” really originated from Korea. And, yes, China has a big netizen community too.

    But, yeah, Korea has big “beef” with the US too. Literally.

  4. Sevenses

    i also had no idea that there was a ‘a wind of dislike’ from some of the Chinese toward the Koreans

    I did know, but I didn’t think it was that strong that even mainstream actors were noticing. Although, you know, it takes two to tango. That’s all I’m saying.

    This actually isn’t one of his better pictures. I remember him being absolutely dazzling in My Love Patzzi. Ahh. :D

  5. ed

    if someone in china is throwing money at a co-production, there must still be hallyu fans left in china :) yeah heard about all the netizen feud, which got a lot of legpower from supposed historical inaccuracy of the saeguk. the “hate” has taken on so many lives with other busybodies fanning the fire for their own different interests (e.g. the press trying to sell more papers is only one of the interest group), & even parodies like “michael phelps is claimed to be korean” to mock the whole feud & the 2 sides :P

    back to K-drama, chae rim’s foray into the coproductions is most impressive. she actually outacted many of her leading men & did quite convincing kung fu!

  6. jusash

    >> I don’t know much about the popular sentiments of the Chinese toward Korea — or Korean perceptions of such

    I wasn’t aware there was ANY.

    The NAmerican China crowd are discovering and lapping up old and new Kdramas as frantically as these dramas are being released by the various sources here. Likewise the Namerican China Chinese also remain as loyal in unwavering viewer support to China-made dramas.

    As far as I glean off HK newpapers – in HK, joint productions seem very welcome too – at least within the HK + Hallyu/Korea productions.
    In HK, some Korean stars seem also growing in popularity and crowd size, with the famiiar stars’ each and every visit.

    The only market that seems (to me anyways) to be revamping themselves to give Korean dramas a run for their money lately seems to be Taiwan.

    All the best. Kim Rae Won seems to have the brand of looks that might sit down well with the China market (very fair complexion, scholarly etc)

  7. belleza

    “if someone in china is throwing money at a co-production, there must still be hallyu fans left in china”

    Indeed there is. Backlash against Korean pop culture is strongest in China, but at the same time, it is because Korea pop culture has been commercially most successful in China. It is natural give-and-take. I can enjoy Jumong ironically, just like Brits enjoy Star Wars ironically. It’s fun to root against the Han Empire, because it makes you feel really proud how big and bad the Han were in East Asia. :D

    “the “hate” has taken on so many lives with other busybodies fanning the fire for their own different interests”

    Yeah, imagine Popseoul with millions of people. (Or Youtube, when anonymous Koreans and Japanese psuedo-nationalists go at it. FUN!!) That’s kinda what it’s like on both sides.

    “The NAmerican China crowd are discovering and lapping up old and new Kdramas as frantically as these dramas are being released by the various sources here.”

    Yeah, pretty much. In many big stores, the Korean drama section will be almost as large as the Chinese drama section. Both Yi San and Iljimae are really, really popular right now. One thing I notice is that the Korean Americans really don’t hanker for the sageuks (favoring of course the trendy rom-coms), whereas the Chinese viewers lap up the big name sageuks.

  8. abe

    What ever did happen to Kim Jae Won in the last 2 years?

  9. Jessica

    I remember one of the funnier feuds was based on the Chinese dubbing of Jumong.

    One of the beefs was “the translation of the word ‘Nation’ (in reference to Goguryeo) to ‘Tribe’, and the translation of the Han Dynasty to the ‘Heavenly Dynasty’ :)

    I think k-dramas are still really popular in Taiwan. Except they’re all dubbed (but Taiwan dubbing is really good). Also, it’s not just the typical 16 episode ones, but also the really long 50+ ones.

  10. 10 bjharm

    If he not fluent in Chinese it is not a good idea to struggle with the language and try to act, he should just give his all to his acting, I mean 50 episode his killer smile not going to get him all the way through it if he not acting well.
    I guess there always going to be negatives to the so call Korea wave, even more so after the Olympic Games and the national pride that raised. There are Koreans who have done well there and gotten kind of adopted, like Jang Nara, who after 4 years still struggles with the language but she has turned that to her advantage so her baby Chinese talk appeals to her fans there.
    As Kim Jae-won is a school mate of hers hope she helps him out it if need it, I sure she will.

  11. 11 belleza

    “If he not fluent in Chinese it is not a good idea to struggle with the language and try to act, he should just give his all to his acting,”

    Yeah, it’s really not a big deal because they’ll just dub his voice. Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing.

    “I think k-dramas are still really popular in Taiwan.”

    Yeah, I caught the Taiwanese dub of Coffee Prince on TV a few months ago. Eun Chan sounded very, very girly.

  12. 12 Sevenses

    Yeah, I caught the Taiwanese dub of Coffee Prince on TV a few months ago. Eun Chan sounded very, very girly.

    That’s why I avoid dubs if I can (esp TW because I can’t stand the accent). Nothing beats the language it was supposed to be in. :D Yay for subbing! Kdrama is so popular in Taiwan they’re trying to imitate it. It’s just a theory of mine, but Smile Pasta & Full House, anyone?

  13. 13 belleza

    “Kdrama is so popular in Taiwan they’re trying to imitate it. It’s just a theory of mine, but Smile Pasta & Full House, anyone?”

    I think TW trendies tend to stay somewhere in a happy middle between story-oriented J-dramas (i.e. manga adaptations and idol singers) and screwball/character-based K-dramas (soapy.) TW is maybe now the biggest exponent of idol pop culture for “Sino Asia.”

    Shows like Time of Dog and Wolf, East of Eden, Hong Gil Dong, and Iljimae though do fit certain HW and TW-drama modes, and they seem created with that market in mind too. Not to rehash Iljimae (doing great in China), but its style of humor is on par with the broad-as-the-sky slapstick you see in the lighter historical stuff.

  14. 14 javabeans

    belleza, i’d agree with you about TODAW and Iljimae, but I’m not so sure Hong Gil Dong was an attempt to appeal to Chinese and Taiwanese markets — that sense of slapstick has long been a staple of the Hong sisters’ writing, and (to their detriment, I think) been growing steadily more pervasive with each successive drama. Which isn’t to say that HGD didn’t want to capitalize on pan-Asian interest; I just don’t think its style was a particular bid to achieving that end. (In fact, I’d say it had its fair share of oversimplified “China bad” elements that were wince-worthy in their bias.)

  15. 15 belleza

    “that sense of slapstick has long been a staple of the Hong sisters’ writing, and (to their detriment, I think) been growing steadily more pervasive with each successive drama.”

    Mmm! I think you’re definitely right about that. Hong Sisters dramas are kinda blind spot for me (uhhh haven’t seen My Girl yet.. . ), but I really liked the writing and story planning of HGD. Which Hong Sisters drama should I start?

  16. 16 Felicity

    @Sevenses

    “That’s why I avoid dubs if I can (esp TW because I can’t stand the accent). Nothing beats the language it was supposed to be in. Yay for subbing! Kdrama is so popular in Taiwan they’re trying to imitate it. It’s just a theory of mine, but Smile Pasta & Full House, anyone?”

    Yeah, I avoid dubbed dramas like the plague too. I often find that wrong voice actor just changes the whole character and feel of the drama. Some are tolerable but others are just so wrong for the character, it’s plain jarring. Like Eun Chan in the chinese dubbed version sounded too girly! One rare occasion where I actually preferred the dubbed version to the original version was All About Eve. The voice dubber for Chaerim in AAE actually enhanced my liking of her. Heh. Chaerim’s voice has a lower register while the dubber’s voice was sweeter and more childlike, which fitted the character of Sunmi in AAE better.

    @javabeans

    “Which isn’t to say that HGD didn’t want to capitalize on pan-Asian interest; I just don’t think its style was a particular bid to achieving that end. (In fact, I’d say it had its fair share of oversimplified “China bad” elements that were wince-worthy in their bias.)”

    I noticed the “China bad” elements in HGD too and wasn’t impressed. Chinese officials are always painted as corrupt, greedy and stupid eh? One of the many reasons why I was not particularly fond of HGD. :-/

  17. 17 Felicity

    “Kdrama is so popular in Taiwan they’re trying to imitate it. It’s just a theory of mine, but Smile Pasta & Full House, anyone?”

    Yeah, also Romantic Princess and Goong. Taiwan is copying Korea copying Japan copying Taiwan and it goes round and round. :)

  18. 18 javabeans

    belleza, DEFINITELY start with Delightful Girl Chun-hyang. In terms of Hong Sisters dramas, for me it’s Chun-hyang, then My Girl, then Fantasy Couple, then Hong Gil Dong. (Which, unfortunately, means each drama has gone down a little since the previous one.)

  19. 19 Elaine

    While I’m sure there always some competition between the different East Asian countries, I’m pretty sure Kim Jae Won is more referring to the fact that China is less “pro-Korean-drama” now. Some people have grown less interested in the Korean Wave, and the Chinese government itself is trying to encourage local productions instead of Korean import dramas because of the previous insane popularity (where Korean dramas were dominating).

  20. 20 SFfan

    Love Kim Jae Won’s acting so no matter where he does his work, I’ll be waiting to watch. Hope this latest will be a HUGE success so he’ll continue to land major roles!! Miss you, KJW!!

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